To say whether the concept of welfare state is being realized in India one should be clear in ones mind what is a welfare state. A welfare state is described as a System under which the state undertakes to protect the health and wellbeing of its citizens by means of grants, pension and other benefits(1). “A welfare state is one that guarantees broad services of economic protection that any citizen claims that he is longer able to provide himself(2). In a welfare state benefits which an individual receives are political rights not charity and there should be no occasion for apology or embarrassment when an individual applies for the benefits. The services provided by the state should be parallel in quality to those given to individuals who are able to draw on private sources. These are elements that by any meaningful way make up a welfare state.3 A Welfare state should make provisions to provide for health, education, employment, sanitation, good drinking water, Unemployment, removal of poverty, housing and other basic needs of people. To assess whether India has become a welfare state or has been endeavoring to become one, should know how much improvement government of India has brought about the wellbeing, health, standard of living, economic conditions, education, employment and environment of its people.
Though the concept of welfare state itself had not been stated clearly until after independence in 1947 the content itself had been expressed by Mahatma Gandhi and Nehru a early a 1930’s. The Indian National Congress Planning committee headed by Jawaharlal Nehru had declared that the social objective should be to ensure an adequate standard of living of the masses, to get rid of the appalling poverty and enable them, to get their basic needs. Unemployment had been a matter of concern and its removal an objective.
Gandhi visualized a new way of living, a philosophy of flowering of all potentialities in individuals. This was termed as Sarvodaya.(4)
The newly formed government of India decided to take on the task of facilities rapid economic development and removing poverty through a planning process. It aimed to bridge as quickly as possible, the gap between the rich and poor, to remove social injustice, inequality and oppression. The concept of welfare state comes out clearly in the Indian Constitution relating to Directive Principles of State Policy, in articles
36 to 51. Articles 38 and 39 aimed at securing a social order for promoting social economic and political justice and minimizing income gaps and facilitating opportunities for growth. Article 39 lays down the principle that direct the state policy to secure livelihood for all fair distribution of wealth and checks on concentration of wealth, equal pay for equal work, protection of health of workers, creation of opportunities for good life for children through good education and assistance for the poor and weaker sections of people(5). “Constitution of India lays down these principles as the very basis of development policy(6). The concept of welfare state comes out clearly in these articles and the vision of our national leaders for the welfare of Indians. Though six decades have passed since India became independent, to what extent has it succeeded in creating a welfare state in India. An inclusive assessment of wellbeing of the people of India at the present compared to what it was in the 1950s gives an idea of this. This needs a brief review of present inclusive conditions of India covering women, school going children, health, sanitation, education, employment opportunities, poverty, labour and available relief from the state for accident, sickness and supportive measures for the welfare of the poor, the old age citizens and the rural destitute.
A significant part of a welfare state should be provisions for providing good elementary and secondary education to children to help them to get knowledge to develop their personalities to take their place in economic system. It should strive to remove disadvantages suffered by children of underprivileged families make provisions for free education of such children by providing them food, shelter, good medical care and well equipped school learning. This must be an important agenda, of a welfare state(7). The government of India’s plans increased the number of school going children from 23.5 million in 1966 to 188.1 million in1988; there are currently 789 lakhs primary 236 lakhs upper primary 123 lakhs secondary and 60,000 senior secondary schools in India.
Enrollment in primary classes is touching a hundred million. Over 120 million kids are getting free midday meals. Government of India’s experience on education has gone up from 7.9 per cent to 11.3 per cent of public expenditure in 2010-2011. The latest economic survey shows spending on education by the states and Central Government is about 3 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).
University and college education has also expanded. According to University Grants Commissions List of 23 June 2008 there are now 274 state universities which receive Central UGC assistance, 130 deemed universities and 82 private universities besides 42 Central Universities and IITs(9).
Diploma holders increased from 58 thousand in 1950-52 to 746 thousand in 1966 and degree holders from 41 thousand to 502 thousand in the same period(10). Much importance is given to technical education which is growing faster as it is providing fairly good employment opportunities. India’s record of higher and technical education is quite impressive. Indian Institutes of Sciences and institutes of management and Space Research organization are on par with highly well known centers of knowledge in the western countries. This Euphoria, however, hides a stark reality. Only 2% of the country population have received technical training of any sort ; besides the paucity of technical institutions like I.T.I s and poly-technic institutions, high fee in Technical institutions makes it almost impossible for boys of lower middle class and poor families to enroll themselves there. According to NSSO report of 2007-2008 average annual spending of a family on their son’s or daughter education in government institutions for one year was RS. 19,899 while in private institutions it was back breaking RS.38,875 NSSO Report also revealed that average cost for general, non-technical education increased by 176% in rural in rural areas and 204% In Urban areas between 1996 and 2008. This has the net effect of preventing large sections of people from joining the main stream of education(11).
Educational facilities in rural areas are deplorable. The quality of education in rural areas is very unsatisfactory. Many children do not have school buildings with basic facilities for learning. In many instances money allocated by the government has been taken away by administrators and officials by false accounting. With rare exceptions public education in elementary and secondary schools is deplorable. A recent annual survey of education revealed that students in V standard could only read class two text books; untrained and demotivated teachers are the cause for this. It was found that out of 47 lakhs of elementary teacher nearly 25% had not studied beyond the secondary level. Another quarter had just completed school(12).
Many school boys even more girls dropped out of school not only for social and economic reasons but also because of lack of schools in their villages and the difficulty of travelling out to other places for schooling. In 2004-2005 illiterate or were educated only up to primary school. Only 12 to 15% of female workers had middle school education or above(13).
Through private schools are mushrooming which provide better education and facilities than government schools their capitation and schools fees is so high even lower middle class families cannot educate their children their while it remains a dream for the poor.
India has almost 19% world’s children. Despite hectic planning welfare programmes and legislation by the government opportunities for good education for the children are not bright. India stands 35 in the global outlook index. The report by the Economic unit places India in the same position in 2016(14). Much needs to be done to improve educational facilities for our children.
Through India is categorized as rising super power along with China and Brazil after the USA and there has been impressive economic growth following liberlisation and globalization only less than 10% of Indian population has benefited from this. This has not yet added to the well being and better standard of living of majority of Indians who lives in villages. There are millions of under privileged, underemployed and unemployed people working on minimum wages as unskilled labourers. Over 300 million Indians cannot find work despite being in Labour force and another 25 million are officially unemployed(15). The size of Indian work force was 415 million according to national sample Survey Organisations report of 2007-2008. Nearly 425 million people look for daily work every day and 34 million, cannot find work. A large number of female workers remain “unutilized working populations, at all India level, of males is 50% while those of women is only 17 per cent nearly 25 million are unemployed throughout the year; of these 64 per cent are women(16). Much of unemployment of women is also due to social backwardness, outdated conventional beliefs and very poor literacy.
Largest number of unemployed poor come from rural areas and most of them are agricultural workers, unemployed seasonally only or they are self employed. Of them 55 per cent are males and 58 per cent are females. 4 per cent of Indian population earn less than $ 1.60 a day which is international poverty line according to purchasing power parity(17). ( PPP ) nearly 99 per cent of workers in agricultural services and hotel industries are unrecognized. It is slightly better in manufacturing industry. Recently released employment survey shows that only 16.3 per cent or workers get some kind of Social Security, while only 15.3 per cent get paid leave. Most unemployment is also due to non-development of education and skills in our rural communities(18).
Highest income class is in urban areas as salaried employees or regular wage workers 59 per cent of employed males and 74 per cent of females among them are the highest spending 10 per cent of the population.
To help unorganized workers government of India has introduced several security and welfare programmes. The National Security Assistance programme introduced in 1995 is to ensure minimum national level of wellbeing and central assistance to unorganized workers and to give financial assistance of Rs.200 a month as old age pension. This covered 72.8 lakh people in 2005-2006 with an expenditure of 196 crore rupees(19).
National maternity scheme is a part of NSAP to help households below poverty line. The scheme allows a payment of RS 10.000 to family on the death of the primary breadwinner. The identification of such families is the responsibilities of the municipalities.
The National government also provides to the deserving workers of Tobacco industry, non-coal mines and cane workers housing, medical care, educational and sanitary facilities form central welfare fund. In mid 2,000 governments helped 40lakh families with an annual expenditure of one hundred crores. There are also National Social Security Scheme, Jana Shree Bhima Yojana and Universal Health Improvement Scheme for below poverty line people to cover certain disabilities, ill-health, death and accident. To secure the government benefits those who register for the schemes should contribute small premiums on the prescribed dates. Universal health Insurance scheme covered only crore people in the country in 2005-2006 (20). In spite of some of these government welfare e programmes a large number of Indians have been suffering unable to meet even minimum needs for living. Social progress cannot be achieved without economic growth. This only can provide employment and income for better living to people. “The first essential step towards reduction in unemployment is acceleration in economic growth based on increased demand for goods and services. There is a nothing more needful for reduction in unemployment as well as overall level of joblessness than growing economic activity(21). Manufacturing industries which are in difficulty because of high tariffs and rigid operating conditions because of very rigid labour laws for hiring and firing should be helped to overcome the difficulties and enhance production for employment opportunities. There is a need for India to rise export competitiveness to achieve higher level of sustainable growth. India’s manufacturing is close to 14 per cent share in the GDP compared to that of Nepal and 45 per cent of China.
Through India has made much progress in several areas of national life poverty still haunts the country. Even 60 years after independence 35 to 40% of Indian population is below poverty line through Indian government estimate is 26% in 2008 according to national Sample Survey; still more than 300 million Indians are below poverty line(23). Poverty means not only low income but also inability to have education, health, housing, sanitation, good drinking water, adult literacy, employment and social and environmental factors(24). Poverty is disproportionately concerned in rural areas. The main brunt of poverty is borne by landless agricultural labourers, small and marginal farmers and the urban are poor. Apart from the problem of poverty the quality of life of masses in India is another major area of neglect as their social needs are not met even at a minimally desired level. They cannot afford nutritional food, clothing and two out of three are under malnutrition 10 per cent of them suffer from hunger. Food taken by rural population especially by women and children is below required calorie level(25) Because of malnutrition they are suffering from sickness. National Family Health Survey shows 50 per cent of women and 70 per cent children are suffer by the inadequacy. There has been starvation death, according to several micro studies(26).
The irony is that India is self-sufficient in food. Food production increased in India from 50 million tons in 1951 to 231 million tons in 2004. Production of oil seeds, sugarcane, fruits, vegetables and milk have also increased substantially. Through percapita food production increased by 10% in the last five years people could not by enough food because of poor wages and lack of purchasing power(27). Indeed Indian government has been trying to fulfill its constitutional obligations by fulfilling the right of people for food through public distribution (PDS). It is one instrument for improving food security at the house hold level. It ensures availability of essential commodities like rice, wheat, edible oil and kerosene through a net work of fair price shops at prices below that of market. This is a massive net work of more than 462.000 fair price shops, distributing commodities worth 300 billion Rs to about 16000 families with a subsidy of 300 crores(28).
In spite of these food subsidies its impact on poor people is marginal. The problem was large exclusion of real poor people and inclusion of those not eligible for this programme. The want of effective distribution was also responsible for this. Buffer stocks of millions of tons were being maintained in government godowns. According to one estimate only 20% of grains reached people through public distribution system. Between 2003 and 2004 out of 14.1 million tons of food for people below the poverty line only 6.1 reached them. 8 million tons did not. The rest of it was sold in black market by corrupt administrative officials, leakages fraud and illegal diversion food to open market occurred. Nexus between officials ration shops and mafia caused this(29). When an appeal was made about loss of substantial quantities of food in government food grain dropouts and corruption of officials the Supreme court told the government, “ You want the world to believe that we are a strongest emerging economy but millions of our poor and hungry people are a stark contrast” (30).
To help unorganized workers the central government has introduced several security and welfare programme. The National Social Assistance programme which was introduced in 1995 has 3 components. A) The programme (NASAP) i.e. ensures minimum national level of well being and control assistance.
b) Under National old age pension scheme financial assistance of RS 200. Per month is given. It covered 72.8 lakhs peoples in 2005-2006 at an expense of 196 crores in 2005-2006
c) Under the National Maternity benefit scheme( NMBS) a house hold below poverty line is given RS10.000 on the death of its primary bread winner. The village panchayat and municipalities play a key role in identifying beneficiaries. The control welfare fund provides housing, medical care and water facilities to workers employed in and non(31).
To overcome this problem of non availability of food from public distribution system, the Government of India has placed before parliament food security bill making it compulsory for state government to pay a food security allowance to targeted sections in case of failure to supply food grains through sweeping welfare scheme targeted nearly at three fourth of the population. Bill calls for modern storage and door step supply of grain to targeted public(32).
The draft National Food Security Bill 2011 aims to provide 3kg food to a person from general households every month at subsidized rates, free food to children and pregnant women encompassing destitute, home markers and migrant workers. It also makes women of 18 and above as heads of selected house hold switches to wheat, rice and neutric cereals with ration cards. According to economic tiles is subsidy may cost the country 8.000 to 9000 crores(33).
For the majority of poor people who leave in rural India fruits of economic liberalization have not reached them. The agricultural yield in many of the villages which depended water can mansions was very poor. To help such people government of India made some efforts to divert agricultural production in the 1990s by encouraging the growth of fruits and vegetables to local markets and exports. The move were not successful because of deficiency in infrastructure, lack of electricity and good roads to take products to market; farmers suffered a lot and lost interest in it(34).
According to official estimates many poor people are located in cities due to migration from villages. They live in shanty towns and slums, in sub human condition where even basic sanitary facilities do not exist. For instance 7 lakhs poor immigrants in Bangalore live in slums. The serve middle classes, yet they are not a part of it. They sell newspapers which they never read; They sell which they cannot wear; construct buildings in which they can never live. The slum dwellers labour long hours at low wages. They are usually unorganized and liable to be lied of jobs without notice, without insurance and pension benefits(35).
Governments efforts to eradicate poverty had some positive result. Absolute number of total poor in India declined 315.3 millions in 2004-2005 from 324 million 1993-94, This was in spite of growth in the population. The number of very poor people in the same period came down to 11.5 million. The no of absolute poor declined both in urban and rural areas(36).
Indian Women After Independence In 1947
Indian tradition holds women in high place they are called Griha Lakshmi, goddess of wealth and welfare of our homes. Even while performing ritual festivals and function and praying regards are first expressed to women then to father and teacher: Mathru devo bhava, Pitru devo bhava, Acharya devo bhava the great law giver of ancient India, Manu states that when women are unhappy life will be miserable. Notwithstanding the traditional respect given to women what has been the position in India socially, educationally, economically and politically. ?
Certainly dramatic changes have taken place in the legal, political, social, educational and economic position of women since independence. The Indian constitution declared equality of political rights to women, equal protection of the law, equal opportunity in public employment and prohibited discrimination in public places in articles 39 and 41. Two welfare schemes namely Integrated Child Welfare Development Services (ICDS) and National Rural Health Mission were implemented. Equal payment act was also passed to ensure that women were paid equally with men for similar jobs done.
Women got right of vote along with men without any educational qualification, property or income. In 1991 the panchayat bill was passed reserving one third of seats in panchayats to women(37). Recently it was raised to 50 per cent.
In the early 1950 Nehru initiated the process of the enactment of the Hindu Code. Ultimately sections of bill were passed in 4 acts. The Hindu Marriage Act, The Hindu Minority of Guardianship Act, The Hindu Adoption and Maintains Act and The Anti-rape and Anti dowry Legislation(38). Now attempts are being made to reserve a third of seats to women in parliament also.
Female education and literacy are unambiguous winners, especially in towns and cities in India. Women continue to equipped themselves in academic credentials and experiences matching male leaders in functional excersies and opportunities at leadership level or surging. Maximum opportunities for these women are in engineering, information technology, sales and business development, office administration and teaching(39).
This bright prospect of women is, however, constrasted in rural India. The population of rural females enrolled in schools is half in India as a whole. This is in the age group of 12 to 14. Half of all females in the age group of 15 to 19 are illiterate. Average number of years of schooling for persons aged 25 and above is 20.4 while it is 1.4 for females(40).
Women have been main victims of India’s failure on the elementary education and literacy fronts. India’s rank is 82 in terms of public expenditure and education to GNP among 116 countries. It is small wonder the rate of female literary was low about 39.1 percent in 1991(41).
Rural women are most disadvantaged in terms or literacy, health and burden. Women have been driving force behind building construction, highway construction and domestic work. In the unorganized section of the 43.9 crore workers over 95% are women. But there are marginalized in state policy. Government is the largest employer of women. 41.39 lakhs of women who are supposed to receive average pay of Rs.100 a day. These include midday meal workers, insulators and vaccinators with awareness child birth. They work as promoters of awareness and capacity building among women and adolescent girls and child education. In fact “they are the hands and feet of social order”. Yet these women are in deplorable condition and are not entitled to minimum wages let alone social security and paid vacation. NHRC women are front line workers and are expected to be primary link between community and government 3.9 million work in unorganized sector, without social safety system. Not are these any labour, laws to safeguard their rights (42).
In spite of equal pay requirement act passed in 1978 unequal pay continues (working) from small business to large organisations to unorganised sectors. Women are paid lesser pay than men for the same work. According to annual Survey of 2004-2005 the gender gap for workers in the sectors it was 37%. This shows how poor is the performance of the state in providing equal treatment for women in serviced and pay in spite of various pieces of legislations passed to protect them (43).
Health services for women in the rural country side are poor. There are no health centers or hospitals in several villages, nor trained nurses to help them at the time of delivery. Infant mortality rate is high. Mortality rate among elderly widows are generally 86% higher than married women of the same age. Though the Central Government is providing social security entitlements to 21 million poor women and older people this among to help to only 6% of 362 million poverty sticken people. There are nearly 33 million widows in the country in 1990. Though many Indian states in Indian states in India have widow pension schemes the coverage is poor and most are neglected(44). “India has the distinction of being the lowest ranked in this respect among BRIC economies (Brazil, India, Russia and China)(45)
Nevertheless taking India as whole women’s education and political landscape. Women have moved from being objects of legislation to initiators. Educated women are no longer fully subordinate to men. Families no longer exercise total control over them. Women have made substantial progress in professions and politics and have occupied very high and top most positions in the areas. The president of India, Chief Ministers of Bengal4, Uttar Pradesh and Tamilnaduand the Chairman of India“. Congress Party are women. Many women also are members of Parliament of State legislative Assemblies and of Cabinets both in the centre and states. But these are only a small percentage of State legislative Assemblies and of cabinets both in centre and states. But these are only a small percentage of Indian women: they have to go a long way to attain gender equality and justice (46).
An Assessment Of Human Development In The Contexr Of Our Efforts To Achieve A Welfare State In India:
India’s rank in Human Development improved from 132 in 1997 to 126 in 2006 and the rank of Gender Development Index (GDI) improved from 126 to 96. In spite of this the rank of India is far behind that of China particularly in GDI. The rank of China was 64 while that of India was 81.adult literacy rate of India has much improved since 1980 but it was only 61 per cent compared to that of China which exceeded 80 per cent. Similarly India’s progress was slower in improvement of health, lags behind China and other South East Asian countries though it was creditable compared to what it was in colonial period. Infant mortality had gone down from 227 in 1941 to 130 in 1997(47). India’s life expectancy had almost doubled to 63 in 1998 from 32 in 1950. However, India’s health care in rural areas is unsatisfactory. 19 per cent of Indians had no access to safe water, 25 per cent to health services and 73 per cent had no sanitary facilities. 53 per cent of Indian children----------Infant mortality under five, infant mortality and maternal mortality was higher in India compared to China, Srilanka and Vietnam. Malnutrition among children however got reduced from 51% in 1942-1993 period to 43%in 2005-2006. More than 80% of women did not have the facility of trained nurses at the time of delivery. Housing situation however improved in country side though it declined for poor people in cities. 43% of rural and almost all urban houses got electricity for lighting. India’s over all literacy rate improved from around 17% in 1951 to 65% in 2001. Literacy in rural areas too increased from 36% in 1981 to 59% in 2001(48).
Though India’s efforts have failed to eradicate poverty, it has certainly come down. Indians no longer live in abysmal poverty. Recent survey shows that number of people who could not afford two meals a day has dropped from 19% of house holders to 5% in 1994. Nevertheless quality of life of majority of Indians is not satisfactory, though about 10% of upper class Indians are very well placed and live a high standard of life. Liberalization and globalization has benefited them. Much of rural India however remains untouched by its benefits(49).
Since Independence Indian government has been endeavoring to eradicate poverty and to give better life to the poor and economically and socially ill placed people. India spends around 6 to 7.5%of its G.D.P. in Social sector. This expenditure has shot up from 6.8% in 1991 to 24 to 27% in 2008. 1
In other words Central Government social sector expenditure has gone up from Rs.48 per person in1981 to Rs.247.00 in 2002-2003.
As Nehru said way back in 1957 the aim of planning in India was to secure equity of opportunity for everyone to live a full life. These objectives have been only partially fulfilled. A human egalitarian just social order has still to come into existence. For too many of our people “a good life is still a pie in the sky”.2(Bipin Chandra.P.500).
India’s goal is to achieve a real Welfare state, though effort has been put to be welfare state much more needs to be done to realize the goal.
Dr. K.V. Ram
Rtd. Senior Professor
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